From Dear Author:
Books have long been my refuge from the crazy, ugly real world. Now parts of the online reading community are eroding that safe place. 2014 was not a very good year for the reader. Readers were stalked and the stalking was celebrated in a major newspaper. There were dozens of smaller skirmishes and many vocal rallying cries for uncritical support of books and authors. There was a drumbeat, particularly from self-published authors, that readers exist to support the author.
It was also a year in which women were under attack. From being referred to as “binders full of women” to the horrific display of misogyny toward female gamers and gaming developers, the online community seemed especially vile. And it spilled over into the book community with regular ad hominem attacks being lobbed at readers for their reading choices, which had little to do with the books themselves for many times the critics hadn’t even read the books in question. Instead the ad hominem attacks had more to do with the fact that the online discussion wasn’t about the books they felt were stronger, better, worthier than these lesser ones being elevated and praised. Or it was authors who felt that readers didn’t appreciate or understand their work OR worse, assumed that the reader who didn’t like their work had a secret, evil agenda to bring that author down.
. . . .
Dear Author is coming up on nine years of existence. It was established in April 2006 by Jayne and I, because we wanted to talk about books, and specifically we wanted to talk about books with other readers. That it has grown into what it is now pretty much astounds the both of us. Over the years I’ve made mistakes, mostly because I felt like I was still talking to my five friends about books.
And as Dear Author has grown, so have the headaches (and I’m not even talking about the lawsuit), to the extent that I’ve privately told individuals that I’m ready to throw in the towel and walk away from the blog. I’m not going to but I have those feelings. I’m sure many of you have those feelings, because you’ve shared with me your frustration and discontent with the online community, with social media, with the constant negativity in countless emails.
Internally, DA has had discussions about making a safe place for readers where we can talk without fear of reprisal. After weeks of thinking about this, I’ve come to the conclusion that we shouldn’t be afraid to speak about books. It’s books. How did discussions about books become so fraught and dangerous that we have to hide away? I mean, that’s a bit ridiculous and a lot tragic, right?
Ultimately I understand that we want to talk about the books we love and those we don’t without judgment of us as people. From what I hear from others, we want to be able to share our feelings–both love and hate–without pissing people off. And I guess the question is whether that’s a reasonable expectation.
. . . .
There are authors who write books that I do not like. I really need to work hard separating the book from the author and understand that even if the author should choose to write something that I find personally offensive, it does not mean the author is personally offensive. Similarly, because the reader doesn’t like the book doesn’t mean that she is dumb or offensive or doesn’t get it.
Link to the rest at Dear Author